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Size-fractionated labile trace elements in the Northwest Pacific and Southern Oceans

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • W. Baeyens
  • A. R. Bowie
  • K. Buesseler
  • M. Elskens
  • Y. Gao
  • C. Lamborg
  • M. Leermakers
  • T. Remenyi
  • Hao Zhang
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>20/09/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Marine Chemistry
Number of pages6
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Photosynthesis by marine phytoplankton requires bioavailable forms of several trace elements that are found in extremely low concentrations in the open ocean. We have compared the concentration, lability and size distribution (<1 nm and <10 nm) of a suite of trace elements that are thought to be limiting to primary productivity as well as a toxic element (Pb) in two High Nutrient Low Chlorophyll (HNLC) regions using a new dynamic speciation technique, Diffusive Gradients in Thin-film (DGT). The labile species trapped within the DGT probes have a size that is smaller or similar than the pore size of algal cell walls and thus present a proxy for bioavailable species.

Total Dissolvable trace element concentrations (TD concentration) varied between 0.05 nM (Co) and 4.0 nM (Ni) at K2 (Northwest Pacific Ocean) and between 0.026 nM (Co) and 4.7 nM (Ni) in the Southern Ocean. The smallest size fractionated labile concentrations (<1 nm) observed at Southern Ocean sampling stations ranged between 0.002 nM (Co) and 2.1 nM (Ni). Moreover, large differences in bioavailable fractions (ratio of labile to TD concentration) were observed between the trace elements. In the Northwest Pacific Ocean Fe, Cu and Mn had lower labile fractions (between 10 and 44%) than Co, Cd, Ni and Pb (between 80 and 100%). In the Southern Ocean a similar trend was observed, and in addition: (1) Co, Cd, Ni and Pb have lower labile fractions in the Southern Ocean than in the Northwest Pacific and (2) the ratios of <1 nm to dissolvable element concentrations at some Southern Ocean stations were very low and varied between 4 and16%. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.